Tag Archives: Technology coverage
by Liz Hester
Covering new technology and the companies behind them is one of the better parts of being a business reporter. Who doesn’t want to go to the conferences where Apple, Samsung, or Nokia show us the latest gadget that we simply can’t do without and will make our lives so much better?
One of the better earnings stories is that of Blackberry maker Research in Motion. It has been struggling to make a profit as customers and business clients turned to smart phones from other makers, upending its long-time hold on the market.
Here’s Thursday’s story from the Wall Street Journal, which chose to focus on some of the board changes toward the top:
Research In Motion Ltd. reported a surprise profit Thursday and a comfortable cash pile for its fiscal fourth quarter, bolstered by the first sales of its new BlackBerry Z10 device.
Underscoring still-formidable challenges, RIM also said it lost about three million subscribers in the period. And Chief Executive Thorsten Heins said he expected to see service fees decline as RIM works through a transition with carriers over those payments.
RIM also said one of its founder and its former, long-time co-chief executive, Mike Lazaridis, would step down from the board. That ends Mr. Lazaridis’ formal ties to RIM, which go back about 30 years to when he started the company with a loan from his parents. Mr. Lazaridis said, however, he had no plans to sell down his sizeable RIM holdings, which amounts to about 5.7% of the company’s shares.
The results were encouraging for many investors, who bid up shares. In late morning trading in New York, RIM was up 46 cents, or 3.2%, to $15.03. The quarterly profit, RIM’s second, consecutive profitable period, comes a little over a year after Mr. Heins took the reins from Mr. Lazaridis and Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie.
The New York Times took a more traditional earnings story approach, putting the company’s full year losses in the second paragraph:
The annual loss, which tax benefits reduced from an operating loss of $1.2 billion, compared with $1.16 billion in net earnings a year earlier.
In the latest quarter, which ended March 2, the company lost $18 million from operations. But recovery of income taxes transformed that into a $98 million profit for the quarter, or 19 cents a share.
BlackBerry has struggled with declining sales. Revenue in the latest quarter was $2.6 billion, compared with $2.7 billion in the same period a year ago. Annual revenue fell to $11 billion, from $18.4 billion a year earlier.
For about one month of the quarter, the first of its new phones, the BlackBerry Z10, was on sale in Canada, Britain and some other markets, but not the United States. BlackBerry said that it shipped about a million of the handsets during that time.
It nevertheless reported that there were 76 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide at the end of the period, a loss of about three million users. Until the third quarter of the fiscal year, BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, had consistently increased the number of subscribers.
While the decline in subscribers is troubling, investors seemed to focus more on the company’s return to the black. But the Associated Press pointed out that one good quarter didn’t meant the company was back where it should be:
It will take several quarters, though, to know whether RIM is on a path toward a successful turnaround. RIM just entered the crucial U.S. market with the new phone last week. And despite selling a million BlackBerry 10 phones in other countries, RIM lost subscribers for the second consecutive quarter.
Thursday’s earnings report provided a first glimpse of how the BlackBerry 10 system, widely seen as crucial to the company’s future, is selling internationally and in Canada since its debut Jan. 31. The 1 million new touch-screen BlackBerry Z10 phones were above the 915,000 that analysts had been expecting for the quarter that ended March 2. Details on U.S. sales are not part of the fiscal fourth quarter’s financial results because the Z10 wasn’t available there after the quarter ended.
Investors appeared happy with the financial results. RIM’s stock rose 34 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $14.91 in afternoon trading Thursday after the release of results. Many analysts had written RIM off last year, but now believe the Canadian company has a future.
“I thought they were dead. This is a huge turnaround,” Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said from New York.
Misek said the Canadian company “demolished” the numbers, especially its gross margins. RIM reported gross margins of 40 percent, up from 34 percent a year earlier. The company credited higher average selling prices and higher margins for devices.
“This is a really, really good result,” Misek said. “It’s off to a good start.”
While coverage was mostly favorable, I appreciated the fact that reporters injected some skepticism up high in all the stories to question the results and the company’s ability to repeat it going forward. Obviously we’ll have to wait and see, but the coverage of Thursday’s earnings remains a good example to those just joining the tech beat.
by Chris Roush
Xconomy.com, a website that covers technology and innovation in major cities around the country, has opened a bureau in Denver to cover the Colorado market.
Founder Robert Buderi writes, “I am also extremely pleased to introduce the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver, Michael Davidson. Mike is already well known to the region’s innovation community: he comes to us from the Boulder County Business Report, where he has carved out a name for himself as a leading voice covering innovation and technology. We think he is a rising star and we are extremely happy to have him head up our coverage from Day One. He will have help from some local freelancers and, of course, other editors around the Xconomy network.
“You will find Mike’s own welcome story immediately following this — as well as his first news analysis post — about how the rapidly growing Denver startup scene is seizing on the template created in Boulder to create a startup- and collaboration-rich enviornment.
“A lot about Xconomy Boulder/Denver is unique. For one thing, it is the first of our cluster sites not in the Eastern or Pacific time zone. Innovation, after all, doesn’t happen only on the coasts. Therefore, we think it is important to build a network that reflects the pervasiveness of the innovation and entrepreneurial movement sweeping the country. (Stay tuned in the next few weeks for another announcement along these lines.) By including new regions like Boulder/Denver in that network — and by being on the ground with thoughtful, in-depth daily reporting on startups, venture capital, and innovation at larger companies in tech, life sciences, energy, and more — we seek to bring what is happening in those communities into a broader national conversation. That, we think, is especially important, because all too often national press tend to focus on what is happening on the coasts, especially in Silicon Valley—thereby missing great work being done in other parts of the country.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Casey Newton, a senior reporter with the tech news site CNET, has resigned to join The Verge, another tech news site.
An item on the Vox Media blog states, “Casey Newton joins The Verge as a senior reporter. He was previously a senior writer at CNET, where he recently broke the news that Twitter is working on a standalone music app. Before CNET, Newton wrote about technology for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is the tallest reporter covering Silicon Valley and can be found on Twitter @CaseyNewton.
“Here’s Newton on his move to The Verge:
Since the day it launched, less than 18 months ago, The Verge has been open in my Web browser more or less constantly. First I marveled at its bold, beautiful design; then I noted the speed and frequency with which it breaks news; then I dug into its world-class features. Whether writing about Aaron Swartz or animated GIFs, Google Glass or Samsung’s sexism, The Verge somehow always delivers the take I want to read — one that is timely, thoughtful, and delivered with style.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
At least nine business journalists made the list of Time magazine’s 140 best Twitter feeds to follow.
They included CNBC.com’s John Carney. Time wrote, “Editor of CNBC.com’s NetNet blog, Carney concerns himself first and foremost with the high drama of Wall Street, but tweets on all business-related news as well – often with his tongue firmly in cheek.”
For Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal, Time wrote, “The hardest-working man in financial news is tweeting out the latest consumer confidence data before you’ve had your morning cup of coffee, and movements in overseas markets long after you’ve gone to bed. Amazingly, he still has time to mount a defense of the trillion-dollar platinum coin somewhere in between.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Kelli Grant is on the list. Time wrote, “This Wall Street Journal consumer reporter offers a smart take on the best ways to spend and save. Grant balances links to her articles with personal anecdotes about her cats and upcoming wedding.”
For New York magazine’s Kevin Roose, Time wrote, “New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose breaks down business and technology news for people who don’t follow those topics closely. On Twitter, he adds a level of snark by calling out companies, consumers and everyone in between.”
For All Thing’s D’s Kara Swisher, Time wrote, “Founder and co-executive editor of AllThingsD.com, as well as a Wall Street Journal columnist, Swisher offers smart tweets on technology and startups.”
ABC News technology editor Joanna Stern is also listed. Time wrote, “The technology editor at ABC News, Stern chronicles all things gadgets with dedication and humor. Her feed is full of pop culture confessions, social media banter and misadventures with Vine.”
For The Verge’s Josh Topolsky, Time wrote, “Topolsky is the editor and co-founder of The Verge, a site that covers the intersection of technology and arts. His Twitter feed does the same with dispatches from TED, an early hands-on look at Google Glass and live tweets on the Oscars and Super Bowl.”
For ZDNet’s Ed Bott, Time wrote, “An award-winning author and journalist, Bott has owned the Microsoft, Windows and Office beat for much of his career. On Twitter, he doesn’t just bring experience, he’s got plenty of snark, too.”
Chicago Sun-Times tech columnist Andy Ihnatko is also on the list. Time wrote, “A tech columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Ihnatko’s twitter feed keeps tabs on mobile gadgets, future innovations and pop culture for his 70,000 followers.”
by Chris Roush
The Albany Times-Union has redesigned its paper and unveiled the changes on Tuesday. Those changes included an expanded business section.
Here is what editor Rex Smith told Talking Biz News in an email:
We have had a stand-alone Business section five days a week (except Monday and Saturday) for some time, but now we’re moving to six days a week – that is, omitting only Monday, when our print edition is very small. We are adding a bit of space to give us more room for business coverage on Thursdays and Sundays, which are the two largest days of print circulation, and on Tuesdays, when we’re particularly augmenting our coverage of technology. The latter issue focus matches an online issue focus on technology coverage on www.timesunion.com.
In particular, we think this additional coverage is necessary in our market because of the growth of the high-tech sector in New York’s Capital Region. A combination of public and private investments have made this a growing center of the nanotechnology industry, with both cutting-edge research (based at SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering) and manufacturing (at Global Foundries’ chip manufacturing plant in Saratoga County). We need to speak to this vital segment of our market with coverage that reflects what’s going on there and that answers the appetite for information of the players in the nanoscale environment.
by Chris Roush
The “Bloomberg West” show on Bloomberg Television is expanding to two hours daily, reports Quentin Hardy of the New York Times.
Hardy writes, “Along with the existing afternoon program, Bloomberg West will present another hour of tech news at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
“‘We see a real opportunity,’ said Andrew Morse, head of Bloomberg Television in the United States.
“‘The television world is flooded with mediocre content — this extra hour is more of a place for big names in the Valley to come on and talk, and to dig deeper into what the news means,’ he said, speaking of Silicon Valley.
“Officials from Bloomberg would not provide specifics about the profitability of the show, which is mostly filmed at its news offices in San Francisco. For several months, Bloomberg has been the leading source of online business videos, considered valuable content.
“Bloomberg has also been seeking ways to make video news that works across a number of outlets, including television, tablets and smartphones. It will need more production people, and will concentrate on creating an editorial process that can efficiently produce content from the same interviews and stories for different outlets.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Eric Savitz, who covers the tech industry for Forbes and who has been in journalism for nearly three decades, has resigned to accept a position in public relations.
On his Facebook page, Savitz writes, “I’m leaving Forbes to join the strategic communications firm Brunswick Group as a partner in the San Francisco office. While sad to leave behind a 29-year career in journalism, I am totally excited about this new chapter in my life.”
Savitz is the San Francisco bureau chief of Forbes, with the responsibility of leading editorial operations for the San Francisco office, while writing regularly for the Forbes web site and magazine. Eric joined Forbes from Barron’s, where he covered technology form the Palo Alto bureau since 2001.
He previously worked at Barron’s and Dow Jones from 1988-1998. Savitz also wrote the monthly Tech File column for Smart Money magazine form 2004-2006. At Barron’s, he launched Tech Trader Daily, a popular blog providing news, analysis and insights on technology investing, in 2005. He also took over the weekly Technology Trader column in 2006, while continuing to write his own blog.
Savitz has served as a copy editor at Dow Jones News Service, as well as a reporter for Dow Jones Professional Investor Report. From 1998-2001, between stints at Dow Jones, he served as executive editor of The Industry Standard, a San Francisco-based magazine covering the Internet economy.
by Chris Roush
Business technology news site ZDNet has cut five bloggers from its staff in the past few weeks as it continues to realign its organization into a global one, reports Sean Ludwig of VentureBeat.com
Ludwig writes, “ZDNet has a long history of writing about the technology industry, and CNET acquired it for $1.6 billion in July 2000. In 2003, ZDNet refocused to more closely cover business technology. In May 2008, CBS Interactive purchased CNET, and since that time, ZDNet has existed as a combination of technology blog network and news outlet.
“In July, ZDNet decided to combine all of its international sites into one editorial team (and one budget) and since that time, it has been focused on expanding into a global network. ZDNet currently has more than 80 bloggers contracted for its blog network and 40 full-time ZDNet staffers.
“But with that shift comes cuts to its U.S. operations, and several of its bloggers have penned farewell posts lately. Today, Joel Evans — the co-founder of Geek.com and a long-time gadget writer at ZDNet — said his goodbye.
“‘Today is my last day writing for ZDNet,’ Evans wrote. ‘I wanted to write a personal thank you to you, the readers, and to my coauthor, Matt Miller, and of course the fine folks at ZDNet, including my editor, David Grober. ZDNet has given me a place to call home, where I could write about anything I wanted, anytime I wanted.’”
by Chris Roush
Rob Walker will join Yahoo News as a columnist writing regularly about technology and digital culture, it was announced Friday.
His work will appear on the recently expanded and redesigned technology section of Yahoo News, which provides daily coverage of new innovations, trends and breaking news.
Walker has written about technology, business and culture for a variety of publications, such as The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Fast Company and Wired, as well as the public radio program Marketplace. From 2004 to 2011, he wrote the Consumed column for The New York Times Magazine, addressing consumer culture, design and marketing.
His most recent book, co-edited with Joshua Glenn, is the collection “Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories About Ordinary Things” (Fantagraphics: 2012). He is also the author of “Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are” (Random House: 2008) and “Letters From New Orleans” (Garrett County Press: 2005). He is a contributor to Design Observer.
Previously, Walker created the Ad Report Card column for Slate, and has worked as an editor for The Times Magazine, Money, Fortune, The American Lawyer, and others. He is a founding collaborator of Unconsumption, a “must-read Tumblr,” according to Time, that explores creative reuse and mindful consumer behavior.
by Chris Roush
Joe Brown, the editor of tech news site Gizmodo, is leaving to become Wired magazine’s New York editor.
Peter Kafka of All Things D writes, “Brown will be Wired’s ‘New York editor,’ a new role that will have him weighing in on the brand’s magazine, tablet edition and website. It’s his second time at Wired, where he had previously worked as a deputy to then-gadget-boss Mark McClusky. McClusky now runs the company’s website, under new editor in chief Scott Dadich.
“Gawker Media owner Nick Denton hasn’t named a replacement for Brown, who ran the site for the last two years; veteran Gizmodo editor Joel Johnson will lead a search for a new editor. ‘We’re looking for someone with design background,’ Denton says.
“This one seems like an amicable Denton/editor breakup. Here’s Brown’s take, delivered via IM (he’s still a Gawker employee, after all): ‘I’ve had an amazing few years at Gizmodo — the team here is among the best in any business, and I love them like family. But I am pumped about going home to Wired. With Scott and the team he’s put in place, it’s like we’re getting the band back together.’ [UPDATE: And here's more from Brown, who is also an extremely patient Pai gow poker tutor.]“
Read more here.